It is a basic tenet of New Jersey Workers' Compensation law that the employer takes the employee as it finds him. This rule most often finds application in cases where a subsequent work-related accidental injury or occupational disease is accelerated, activated, worsened, or contributed to by a previous disease, as distinguished from a physical disability of an orthopedic nature. An employee is not precluded from pursuing Workers' Compensation benefits under the requirement that the injury arise out of the employment, as long as the proofs demonstrate that the petitioner's condition was "aggravated, accelerated or combined with the pre-existing disease or infirmity to produce the disability for which the compensation is sought." Sexton v. County of Cumberland/Cumberland Manor, 404 N.J. Super. 542, 555 (App. Div. 2009).
However, the mere fact that employment occurred after the development of a pre-existing condition, even if that employment was strenuous, does not in and of itself prove an aggravation of a pre-existing condition. In Peterson v. Hermann Forwarding Co., 267 N.J. 493 (App. Div. 1993), the last employer was not liable for disability under a theory of occupational exposure showing the conditions characteristic to an occupation of a truck driver employment subsequent to an accident contributed in a material degree to the claimant's disability. Facts show the petitioner had a significant accident followed by a return to employment as a truck driver. The Court concluded the strenuous nature of the work should not have caused permanent disability and noted the disabling condition worsened even after he quit working.